Interview with Robert W. Christian | NewInBooks
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write A Perfect Victim?
A Perfect Victim is the second novel of a planned 5 novel series. I had the idea of turning my first novel, Unholy Shepherd, into a series about a third of the way into writing it. I realized pretty quickly that Maureen’s (my main character) story would not be resolved in one book. A Perfect Victim is a hard reset of sorts for Maureen after the events of Unholy Shepherd set her on her path. The characters that brought her out of her isolation are gone (for now…spoilers) and replaced with new ones that she may or may not have a great rapport with. In every book of the series, I try to take a segment of society and examine the ways that it can be twisted and perverted by the worst of its adherents. In Unholy Shepherd (without going into spoilers), I took a look at religion. In A Perfect Victim, I’m tackling, well, telling everyone now would kind of spoil the reveal, but it does involve taking a hard look at how we value human life. I’ll also say, that an early draft had a lot of kooky conspiracies surrounding the bodies at the beginning of the book. Things like alien abduction and mutilation and the like, that go hand in hand with the location of the story, The Rockies, and its reputation for bizarre disappearances of people. I scrapped it relatively quickly, however, when I decided it wasn’t in keeping with the tone that I wanted.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of A Perfect Victim, what would they be?
Funny, I’ve never really thought of what kind of music would define Maureen. Prior to the beginning of the novels, she was a bit of a nomad, driving around the country in one old, beat-up POS car or another, so she would have had to have had a collection of old cassettes from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, right? I’m going to say something by Joan Jett would probably be right for her. Something like Bad Reputation or (I’m Gonna) Run Away. She’s also loosely based on my step-mom, at least in terms of how I picture a 30-something-year-old version of her would have looked, so we’d have to consider some Judas Priest as well (people who’ve read Unholy Shepherd will find that amusing). You could summarize her journey thus far (and actually on to the end of the series, now that I think about it) with two Priest songs, one from their early years and one recent release: Breaking the Law and Never The Heroes. For the other main characters in the book, I’ll keep it to Agent Owen Samuelson (the FBI’s lead investigator and secondary POV character) and Alec Tyce (the local ranger and Army veteran who helps with the investigation and the closest thing Maureen has to a friend in this book). For Samuelson, given some of his demons that we discover later in the book and his slower, methodical nature, I’d say Hurt. The Johnny Cash version, of course. For Tyce, I think it’s pretty easy: Simple Man, the classic Skynyrd version.
If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?
In point of fact, I just wrote a blurb for another author under my current publisher, J.P. Jordan. I wrote, “Everyone loves a good heist story. This is a great heist story. Jordan never fails to make me believe that I’ve got everything figured out before taking me on another twist. Overall, a fun read that expands the world Jordan began in Men of God” for his latest book, All In. I’m not sure if they used it for the cover or not…
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
I actually do not read many thrillers or mystery novels anymore, unless I’m asked to do so as a beta reader/reviewer. I live in a constant state of panic that I’ll inadvertently lift something from them and be accused of not having my own ideas. My favorite genre to read is and always has been fantasy. I’m rereading Wheel of Time right now in preparation for the Amazon series. I also like historical fiction. I have a long-term goal of writing a low-fantasy series set in an agrarian, medieval(ish) version of this planet’s own future if all technology progressed to the point of mutually assured destruction. That’s, like, a decade away, though. I have a long way to go in my world-building skills before then.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? Where did you write A Perfect Victim?
I don’t write in order, so to speak. I come into a book with an idea (even a full outline doesn’t usually materialize until I’ve got several chapters already written) and I write the “tentpole” scenes which are most vivid in my mind first and then fill in the rest. That’s just how my mind works. I have a young son, so where and when I write is wherever and whenever I get a few minutes. Fun story for A Perfect Victim, though: I finished writing the big climax scene with him asleep on the couch next to me. (He was 5 months old at the time).
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My father, to whom I dedicated this book, always told me growing up that the first rule in life (at least as far as he was concerned) was: “…And be thankful.” And no, that’s not a typo, the “…and” is right where it’s supposed to be. Because if you tack that phrase onto the end of anything and everything, it keeps some semblance of positivity going in your life even (or especially) when things may not be going the way you want them to. It doesn’t take much to just be thankful that you’re alive and remember your life in and of itself is the most precious gift you’re ever going to receive. It’s unique. It’s yours and yours alone. And that makes it special. And it’s not cynical either, to be thankful for your successes just as much as the obstacles life throws your way and your failures to overcome them immediately. I think it’s an important thing to carry with you.